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Elimination of “A” Designation: The Apprentice designation is not needed anymore

  1. #31
    Location
    Charleston, South Carolina
    Posts
    641
    Default
    Medical Coding Books
    Quote Originally Posted by wbown View Post
    OOOO MY GOD!!! So what do I do now? I'm one of the thousands CPC-A's that this decision will affect. I sat and passed the exam a year ago October; spent 1 year in the class room and the 2nd year just studying the coding books, page-by-page, line-by-line; took free on-line anatomy classes and every practice test I could find; now you're telling me all of my efforts may have been for not!!! There is no way that I can afford the expense of taking yet another exam. When you're living on $400 a month, it is hard enough keeping up with the yearly AAPC Membership costs, the cost of the chapter meetings, and the CEU's.

    I have been hunting for a medical coding job every day for the past 14 months, sending out hundreds of resumes and made just as many cold calls, resulting in only 1 interview. The only company in 14 months, that was looking for newly accredited medical coders. I was told I was in the running for a job, but then the company decided to “reorganize”; what does that mean? So I keep looking. There is nothing out there if you don't have at least 3 to 5-5 to 7 years of experience (yes, I've even applied for those jobs too).

    This is nothing more than another excuse to squeeze us for yet one more fee. How will this AAPC's new Clinical Exam, help us obtain jobs? It won't. At present the A is removed after completing 1 to 2 years of on-the-job experience; employers still request 3 to 5 - 5 to 7 years of actual on-the-job experience. So whether or not, you have an A at the end of your credentials changes nothing. Let the employers decide for themselves. With the economy in a depression/recession (whatever the politicians and economist are calling it this week, it's bad), why does it seem like we're being penalized when the hospitals, clinics, doctor offices (I've even tried senior living facilities) that no one is hiring??? . Don't hinder me anymore than I've already have been by this economy.

    Now AAPC said SORRY and wants to wipe away my last 3 years because of 1 letter!!! It's not fair, it's not right, to all of the CPC-A's, like myself, who have been struggling, barely keeping our head above the flood waters. We've paid for classes and studied, we've paid and sat for the exam, and we've paid our yearly AAPC membership dues, and paid for chapter meetings. We've done everything that was asked of us, and more. SORRY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If others are similar to me, we have sacrificed years of family time, knowing doing this will better ourselves and our families; so we thought. THIS IS VERY FRUSTRATING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    The NAB and the AAPC are changing the rules after the game has been played and we've gone home – now they want a do over. It's not fair; we've played your game, by your rules and won; now let us move on to the next challenge, without hindering us further. Our credentials matters (I worked very hard for that CPC); the apprentice (A) may be out dated or obsolete, but we have more than earned that CPC after our names. I demand on behalf of the thousands of current CPC-A's that we are grandfathered into the CPC credentials. Let our resumes speak for themselves, and let the employers decide.

    If the objective of the apprentice (A) was to show prospective employers – an individual had passed the CPC exam. Why not, then, grandfather the CPC-A's into CPC's? We've passed our CPC exam, that fact hasn't changed, (or is the NAB & the AAPC now saying otherwise). Like it states in the AAPC's own Coding Edge article, our resumes will indicate our experience level and speak for itself. To eliminate our credentials because a group of people, sitting behind desks, who are not out in this economy job hunting, have decided our credentials are obsolete, and believes 1 letter at the end of our credentials has out lived its usefulness …. Is to discredit my time, (I've never worked harder for anything), and will now be meaningless; it is disrespectful of our commitment to try to better ourselves and our families futures.

    WE'RE NOT ASKING FOR A HANDOUT; WE'RE JUST ASKING TO BE ALOWED TO KEEP WHAT WE HAVE ALREADY EARNED, NOTHING MORE, AND NOTHING LESS. THIS IS A FIGHT FOR OUR FUTURES.!!!!!!!!!!!

    P.S. And Pam Brooks, I'm sure that when you were a new CPC (with or without the A), someone had to sit and endlessly train you, also. I only pray that someday I might have the same privilege.
    wbown,

    Respectfully, it is not polite to call out someone on the forums, especially Pam Brooks who does nothing on here but give GREAT advice. I know Pam, and like Pam, I took my exam after many years of coding and reimbursement experience. So no, I don't believe someone had to sit with her and train her. When I took my exam and passed, I continued in the job I had. The difference between Pam and I, and many others, may be that we are always striving to learn new things. We are like the little kids that continuously ask "why?" Not that we are better than anyone else, I don't mean it that way. We, as well as many other senior coders, continuously strive to do better and/or more. So even though we "grew up" with coding, instead of going to a school, we still started at the bottom in our field just like any coder with no experience, or like any other profession with no experience. Its called life, we may not like, it may not be fair, but it is what it is.
    Machelle Morningstar, CPC, COC, CEMC, COSC
    AHIMA Approved ICD-10-CM/PCS Trainer

  2. #32
    Default Instructors perspective
    From a college instructors perspective, I could understand the "A". That being said, I also knew it was a catch 22 for the students. They spent over a year getting trained and then had a hard time getting a job because of the "A".

    I say let the resume speak for itself. If you pass the exam, which everyone agrees is hard. Then you are qualified to get a coding job. Are you an excellent coder? Becoming a really good coder comes with working on the job. Just like another person mentioned that she graduated as an RN. If you are hired right after you pass your boards then your employer knows you are a new RN and need some working experience under your belt before they send you out there on your own. They have a mentor program now in a lot of hospitals for that very reason. If you pass you CPC in Jan. 2012 and get a job in March then that employer knows you passed and that you may need some time with a mentor but you are qualified to start coding.

    In my opinion they could drop the "A" and extra testing. Let the resume and dates speak for experience. Most employers offer a pre-employment exam. The coder does not need any more testing then that.
    Alicia Scott, CPC, CPC-I, CRC
    Educational Director, CCO.us,
    Have a Passion for Coding

  3. #33
    Location
    Ft. Walton Beach
    Posts
    8
    Default
    TOTALLY AGREE. Right On WBROWN. and DCLARK; my point exactly...much expense and time for $12.00/hr???????????

  4. Default CShaffer, CPC-A
    Alicia, I was glad to see your post on this issue. As an instructor, I am sure you understand how important it is to teach your students what is to be expected of them out there in the "real world". But, I also realize just having the "book" education is not enough to be labled "Experienced", and that is why I have made the suggestion of some type of mentoring program for the "Apprentice". I don't know if you had the opportunity to see the Online program for the removal of th "A" that the AAPC initially offered, and I know I am being reppetitive in my opinions, but I still think that it was potentially a great way to give new coders a chance to experience "real world" coding. And I still believe that if this program is offered with someone to mentor them, it would greatly improve the skillls of those of us who want to continue to learn, and provide us the opportunity to ask questions that would greatly enhance our abiilities to understand how, and where, to research, in order to find solutions to coding errors that are made. Although this is not considered "experience" from an employer's point of view, it allows the coder to work towards removing the "A" status, and rewards them with the CPC credential. And believe me when I say this program IS ALOT of work, I know, because I spent my entire summer working on it and I did a tremendous amount of research. But the site went down in the midst of all this, and I personally do not feel rewarded. That being said, I think that after the coder completes this experience I think they should be awarded the CPC status and leave it up to a prospective employer to make the decision to hire, based on wether they have enough experience or by requring a pre-test prior, to determine if they think a coder has what they are looking for. If a new coder has to take a job that isn't a "coding" position in order to get their foot in the door, I think most of them would have no problems with that, but the "A" status is a label that just gets looked past by those hiring. If the CPC-A's go through an apprentice program, that just shows they are willing to work hard and I believe this dserves to be recognized by awarding the CPC status. I think this is what should be done to help the current CPC-A's, and if AAPC wants to chang the way the testing is done in the future (by adding the op notes to be coded, along with the multiple choice), then that's ok too. But I really feel the new coder would benifit GREATLY from an apprentice experience.... there just has to be someone willing to mentor us...

  5. #35
    Default Janet
    When I tested for my CPC I was proud and thankful that I passed. I had been working in a myriad of settings involving coding and documentation for years yet my CPC showed me how
    little I really knew! Any CPC person is pretty much job specific, we don't know a lot about all other areas of coding but we sure do know the field we work in.

    Having said that, I think the A should be left in place for one year. It is or can be expensive to get your CPC and to add yet another lengthy test at another cost seems unfair. They are still a new coder with no experience. Just because they can do op reports or office visits would be of no help to our Hospitalist company.

    Jobs are hard to find with out without the A attached however being a CPC sure does open doors and I think it is up to the person to prove to the prospective employer they have what ti takes to learn and grow. I have hired people with zero coding experience because I see their potential and trust my intuition. An A after CPC would not have mattered to me.

    Anyway, I love my job, I love auditing and Compliance, I am the luckiest coder I know and either way, as a coder we are WINNERS!!!!

  6. Default
    I just finished a year of 20 hours a week of class room learning for medical billing and coding(I dont know how many hours of homework) . I also did 180 hours of externship. I took and passed my CPC exam. I am now looking for a job in the field.
    I left a very successful career in the retail management job as I wanted a change in careers. While in my retail job, I was the hiring manager. I had to do the interviewing, hiring and training of all new imployees. What I would love to have had, is my new employees to have completed a year of schooling and a grooling exam. Then, I would have known they were serious and smart enough to do the job.
    In most jobs, you get hired and then the hands on training is what gets you familiar with what you have to do with your job on a day to day basis. In the past, coders were hired without any classes and then trained in this manner.
    I passed my classes with a 4.0 GPA, have a great recommendation from my extern site, and passed my CPC the first time with an 81. It amazes me that this is not enough to get me started in this field and the I have an A after my CPC.
    My school is an AAPC acreditted school so I officially have 1 year experience and only need 1 more to get my A removed.
    So, what company would like to hire me and give me experience. I have found that I love to learn and want to become a foremost authority in ICD-10. I have seen and it looks very interesting. The company that hires me will be more than happy to have me as I am an overachiever and always perfect anything that I do.
    I dont know what is going to happen to my "A" but, it sounds like I would have been better off is I hadnt taken the test which makes no sense as there are so many coders that are not certified as it is.
    Can anyone explain how this industry came from hiring anyone without schooling, and training them to people with skills learned in school that are wanting to learn and further their learning for their job that cant get hired. This sounds like a step backwards, not forward.

  7. Default The Scarlet “A” needs to be eliminated NOW.
    The Scarlet “A” needs to be eliminated NOW.
    I come to the coding field from an IT background and hold numerous certifications within that field. Each certification test I passed provided me the privilege to add those letters to my resume demonstrating time in the field as well as focused study. It was my resume that let the employer know my experience and readiness for a posted position.

    If I am lucky enough to gain employment, remember NO one wants to hire a CPC-Apprentice I will probably spend the year entering the same five codes listed on the superbill. My “A” is removed but I am less of a coder at the end of that year than when I passed the CPC exam.

    I would drop the A designation right away for anyone who has passed the CPC exam and move to a graduated certification method.
    The CPC certified professional coder would be the base line certification attained by all members of the coding field utilizing the current exam format. Some of the coders will be hired by an office that utilizes the superbill and so be it at least they will have initially learned the correct methods and understand the requirement of coding guidelines. Next level of certification and testing (questions and clinical sections) would be based on the type of treatment center you are interested in ie: inpatient-focusing on ICD-10, outpatient-focus on CPT, emergency room coding, home health care coding etc. The third tier would be the sub-specialties CPC-I, CCS-P, CCMA, CPCO and so on. Each tier requires more study and time in the field. The goal is with each additional certification attained after the CPC your earning potential goes up. Also as employers seek to provide education opportunities (HITECH meaningful use) for their staff the tier process provides that. Please remember that with the HITECH act more and more of the medical process will be absorbed by the clinical support systems within the EHR's. The graduated certification method will keep coders relevant in the EHR process.

  8. #38
    Location
    Milwaukee WI
    Posts
    4,466
    Default Apprentice Status is "new"
    Have we all forgotten how "new" the apprentice status is? It has only been in effect for a few years.

    When I took the CPC exam in 2005 the requirement to sit for the exam was two years of experience. In order to even register for the exam, I had to submit two letters from employers, on letterhead, at least one of which was from my current supervisor, attesting to two years of experience with coding.

    I believe there was a "student membership" that was available to those without the requisite experience. But those members also didn't sit for the exam.

    In my opinion, the leaders of AAPC did a great disservice to the organization (and to legions of students) by allowing the apprentice status at all. It seems that the organization's leaders have realized this, and are now moving back to the previous system.

    I am in favor of limiting the CPC to those with a certain level of experience, and that experience should come BEFORE one is allowed to sit for the exam.

    That being said, I do believe that it is grossly unfair to those who have already worked so hard to pass the test, to require anything additional AFTER they have passed the test before granting them the full CPC. So, go ahead, eliminate the "A." Return to a more stringent standard of experience for those seeking to sit for the exam ... going forward.

    AAPC should admit that the entire "apprentice" designation was a mistake. Grant those who passed the test their full credential (they took and passed the same test anyone WITH the requisite experience took). Their resumes will speak for themselves as they seek employment.

    The organization may be smaller for a time because some of those who cannot find employment will eventually drop their membership, and those newly graduated students won't be sitting for the exam. But I believe it will be a positive step towards increased professionalism and a greater recognition of the worth of the CPC credential

    Just my opinion.

    F Tessa Bartels, CPC, CEMC

  9. #39
    Location
    Tacoma Washington Chapter
    Posts
    21
    Default
    Quote Originally Posted by FTessaBartels View Post
    Have we all forgotten how "new" the apprentice status is? It has only been in effect for a few years.

    When I took the CPC exam in 2005 the requirement to sit for the exam was two years of experience. In order to even register for the exam, I had to submit two letters from employers, on letterhead, at least one of which was from my current supervisor, attesting to two years of experience with coding.

    I believe there was a "student membership" that was available to those without the requisite experience. But those members also didn't sit for the exam.

    In my opinion, the leaders of AAPC did a great disservice to the organization (and to legions of students) by allowing the apprentice status at all. It seems that the organization's leaders have realized this, and are now moving back to the previous system.

    I am in favor of limiting the CPC to those with a certain level of experience, and that experience should come BEFORE one is allowed to sit for the exam.

    That being said, I do believe that it is grossly unfair to those who have already worked so hard to pass the test, to require anything additional AFTER they have passed the test before granting them the full CPC. So, go ahead, eliminate the "A." Return to a more stringent standard of experience for those seeking to sit for the exam ... going forward.

    AAPC should admit that the entire "apprentice" designation was a mistake. Grant those who passed the test their full credential (they took and passed the same test anyone WITH the requisite experience took). Their resumes will speak for themselves as they seek employment.

    The organization may be smaller for a time because some of those who cannot find employment will eventually drop their membership, and those newly graduated students won't be sitting for the exam. But I believe it will be a positive step towards increased professionalism and a greater recognition of the worth of the CPC credential

    Just my opinion.

    F Tessa Bartels, CPC, CEMC
    I feel that you have hit the nail on the head with your post. Very well said and to the point! Great insight to this issue and hopefully AAPC will consider what you have written.

    Sharyl Leingang BS RDH CPC-A

  10. #40
    Default
    I don't understand the designation of A anyways. I sat through one year of an accredited AAPC school with an externship. I also have 8 years in the business of being an insurance claims processor, a charge entry, medical billing, and payment poster. One would think my experience is all of these plus school and externship should amount to a CPC designation without an A. I've done everything regarding the process of billing and coding and completed my school with a 3.76 GPA. I don't understand why I cannot get an A designation removed. A simple employment search would verify my claims of jobs from my resume. Why can't that be enough? I've been in the industry for so long and I know what I'm doing. I've worked so hard for the last 2 years to get my license only to be told the work I've done still isn't enough.

    Can CEUs be used to have the A designation removed? Can I obtain a certain number of these and it would qualify?
    Last edited by TabithaCollins; 01-05-2012 at 06:16 PM. Reason: additional question

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